Saudi Arabia Passes Anti-Domestic Violence Bill

After years of considerable criticism from the international community, Saudi Arabia has finally passed an anti-domestic violence bill. On August 26, 2013 the Saudi cabinet passed a 17-article protection from abuse law, which would provide up to one year in prison and $13,300 fine for those guilty of committing psychological or physical abuse.

The issue of domestic violence in Saudi Arabia is not limited to nationals, but also affects the significant migrant worker population located there. Numerous cases of abuse towards maids and domestic works have attracted international scrutiny.

Although many critics have attributed these lack of protections to the country’s ultra-conservative religious views, I’ve noted here in 2009 that legislative authority exists in the executive branch, even in countries like Saudi Arabia, to provide these protections if the political willpower existed to do so.

Saudi Arabia has historically dealt with the situation as a private remedy dealt with through the courts, but there have been problems with victims being forthcoming about incidents and concerns over reprisals. The new law provides some immunity from litigation and some anonymity rights for reporting complaints.

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